Election 2023: Te Pāti Māori shrugs off National ruling out working with it, says it will continue to be 'unapologetic Māori' voice

Te Pāti Māori says it has "bigger fish to fry" than worrying about Christopher Luxon's decision to rule out National working with it after the election.

"What he has done is confirm that he's not interested in creating a Te Tiriti-centric Aotearoa and so he has made that quite clear today," said co-leader Rawiri Waititi. "We have bigger fish to fry and if we don't deal with seabed mining, we'll have no fish to fry."

Luxon on Wednesday morning said Te Pāti Māori's recent behaviour, including its "disrespectful" actions in the House on Tuesday, had contributed to his decision. He painted Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori as a "coalition of chaos"

Some polling has shown both the National/ACT and Labour/Greens blocs would need Te Pāti Māori to form a government.

Waititi on Saturday told Newshub Nation that the party would be the kingmaker following the election.

He told reporters at Parliament on Wednesday that National's decision didn't affect Te Pāti Māori's ability to be the kingmaker, despite National saying it doesn't want Te Pāti Māori's support. 

"Unfortunately for Chris and the National Party, they don't determine what happens in the Māori seats," he said.

Te Pāti Māori has a position in Parliament due to Waititi winning an electorate seat at the 2020 election. It's still polling under the 5 percent party vote threshold so would rely on winning an electorate again to return to Parliament. 

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer questioned what was new about National's position. Previously, Luxon has suggested it was highly unlikely Te Pāti Māori would go with National as he expected them to go with Labour and the Greens if given the opportunity. Now, Luxon is saying there's no way National and Te Pāti Māori could work together.

"I guess this is about National trying to get some space and some air time and headlines on something that they've already said before," Ngarewa-Packer said.

"I think he has to grab his voters. They're all after the same voter. It's hard to differentiate between who's Labour and who's National at the moment. We know who we are and we really have to focus on that."

Ngarewa-Packer said Te Pāti Māori took pride in "being pro-Māori" and would "continue to be that unapologetic Māori voice in this House". 

Waititi said: "We're a rights-based party, not a race-based party. We will not be used in a narrative that allows us to be pushed into a space where a colonial narrative is pushed onto indigenous people, we will not accept that."

In his statement on Wednesday morning, Luxon said: "We believe New Zealand is one country with one standard of citizenship, meaning one person, one vote."

Waititi was asked what he thought about that choice of language. 

"Well, he doesn't know our democratic system because it's actually one person, two votes. You get one vote for your candidate, one vote for your party."

He also noted the ratepayers roll allows people with more than one house in different regions to vote in multiple elections. 

Greens co-leader James Shaw also reacted to Luxon's suggestion that the Greens could be part of a "coalition of chaos". He said the party could work cohesively with Te Pāti Māori.

"If you wanted chaos, you need look no further than the National Party over the last few years," Shaw said, before also labelling ACT's policies as ingredients of chaos.

He said it was "deeply frustrating" National was discussing politics right after another major weather event and the focus should be on the victims of this year's severe weather, "not on the kind of gamesmanship you see around here". 

Co-leader Marama Davidson said she didn't agree with Luxon's suggestion that Te Pāti Māori was "radical" and "separatist".

"If he wants to talk about chaos, using some lazy, dog-whistling racism is pretty chaotic and it's a sign that they have no actual substance and just want to kick up that racism."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he had worked with Te Pāti Māori in the past and their relationship was "relatively constructive".

"In terms of who we would and won't work [with], we'll make that clearer towards the election in terms of areas where we see we have issues in common with parties and areas where we think we would struggle to work with."

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